Through the eyes of Erika R. Gamez (MYLH)

Through the eyes of Erika R. Gamez (MYLH)

Our July 30th opening of Miss You Like Hell is just around the corner. We loved interviewing composer Erin McKeown earlier this week and are excited to embark on a series of interviews with the cast and production team. Today, our interview is with Erika R. Gamez, Music Director of Miss You Like Hell. Erika is a NYC transplant from Fresno, CA, whose recent credits include SHE LOVES ME (SDSU), ALLEGORY (La Jolla Playhouse WOW Festival), LITTLE WOMEN (Patio Playhouse), JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH (SDSU). She’s looking forward to serving as Music Director/Keys 1 for the SUMMER: THE DONNA SUMMER MUSICAL National Tour. Erika has a Master of Music in Conducting from SDSU and a B.A. in Music Education from Fresno State and can be found at erikargamez.com.

Continue below to read our interview with Erika R. Gamez… and then reserve your tickets to Miss You Like Hell!

What about the show made it worth coming back to San Diego for the summer?

Being part of this production of MYLH presented a unique opportunity for me as a Mexican-American woman in theatre. MYLH is not only a surefooted return to live theatre for us, but also a chance to bring a story that is deeply personal to me to the stage.

How is the music in the show being used to advance the themes?

All the music in the show is a pastiche of genres, definitely a thoughtful representation of the diverse cast of characters and their lived experiences. The show begins at a point of contention in Beatriz and Olivia’s relationship, and the music waxes on their tenuous bond with modest orchestrations that mirror the drama.

How does the music in the show make the story more relatable to the audience?

It’s a very emotionally heavy show—the concept of being torn from your mother or your child is an unfathomable one for people who don’t know that fear firsthand. So the music acts as a sort of deliverance for the story: the audience gets to have fun with Beatriz and Olivia, the audience gets to rejoice in their kinship, they hold their breath with them as they encounter the unknown.

Why do you think this story is important now?

I think a lot of people, consciously or subconsciously, view stories like this one as some far away, objective situation. And for whatever reason, that detachment—the turning away—shields people from this terrifying reality. MYLH isn’t just a representation of the resilience of brown women; MYLH really is the whole bag, all the rage, the jubilance, the fear. “We are not rafts, we are not even islands. We are the ocean.”

What has been the biggest challenge of the process? What about the biggest triumph?

It has been coin-toss odds each week on whether or not I’ll cry when we rehearse the heavier cues of the show, which leads me to believe that we are very much succeeding in conveying this story and I am failing at keeping the tears at bay.

What are you most hoping that the audience takes away from this production?

Empathy.

Is there anything else you’d like to share that hasn’t been asked above?

It’s been a pleasure to work with this cast and this team this summer. Taking on this story with our director Liz especially has been rewarding beyond words; the collaboration she has cultivated with me as we’ve sought to make this story so vibrant and authentic has made me feel valued and heard in a way I had not before experienced as a music director. I am so thankful to be doing this show with her at the helm; she is very much my sister. Liz, Em, Matt, Ashley, Joe: many thanks and all of my love to you, friends.

Thank you so much, Erika! If you don’t have your tickets yet, grab them now… you won’t want to miss Miss You Like Hell.